Park unveils ‘Government 3.0’
The plan to share information more widely is also intended to boost economic growth and bring more democracy to decision-making.
Under the “Government 3.0” plan, the administration said more information will be offered to the public even before requests are made for disclosures. As long as the information is not classified as a national security secret or protected for privacy reasons, significant amounts of data will be released to the public, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration said.
The Government 3.0 plan was one of Park’s key campaign pledges along with the promise of a “creative economy” and a boosting of the overall employment rate to 70 percent from 60.4 percent as of May.
Park promised to shift the paradigm of how the government operates to put the general public first.
The pledge was criticized during the campaign for being vague.
Nearly four months into her presidency, the ministry unveiled yesterday the specifics of Government 3.0.
The key change will be how the government disseminates its information to the public. As of now, government information is normally provided to the public only when a request is made for public disclosure. Last year, public access was granted to 310,000 pieces of information of the central and local governments and state-invested institutions after disclosure requests were made.
Under the Government 3.0 plan, records of the government will be offered to the public even before disclosure requests are made. The public will be allowed to access up to 100 million items annually from a wide spectrum of government bodies. About 1,700 state-run committees and entities will be added to the database accessible by the general public.
The government will open up data on the operational details of day care facilities, information on hospitals, overdue payments for state health insurance and teacher certification exams. Information on food and drug safety, regional management of harmful chemicals and nuclear facilities as well as the government debts and financial statistics and reports of local governments and public companies will be provided.
The costs and contract processes of major regional projects will also be offered as well as minutes of city council meetings.
Data on weather, transportation and education will also be offered to individuals and companies for commercial use, in an initiative to link the Government 3.0 initiative with development of a “creative economy,” the ministry said.
“Opening up government data will create 150,000 jobs and generate 24 trillion won [$21.2 billion] of economic effects,” said the ministry, quoting research by KAIST and the National Information Society Agency.
The government said it will work to revise laws governing the disclosure of public institutions’ information and support the commercialization of public data. As of now, two bills to make necessary changes are pending in the National Assembly.
“Korean society is facing challenges of low birth rates, an aging population, jobless growth and wealth polarization,” Park said yesterday in a ceremony to declare her vision of Government 3.0. “Under these circumstances, we won’t be able to keep up with the changes in our time if we hold onto the old way of operating the government by exclusively and monopolistically holding on to information and making decisions through opaque systems.”
She gave a specific example of how her plan can benefit the public. The recent information sharing between the Board of Audit and Inspection, police and the National Health Insurance Corporation resulted in locating 369 missing persons and 144 of them were returned to their families, Park said.
In addition to the release of government data, the administration seeks greater public participation in state affairs by promoting E-democracy. Before pushing forward a massive state project that requires more than 500 billion won ($442.5 million) in spending or other contentious government programs, the Park administration promised to hold online public discussions and surveys as well as online voting to better listen to the public’s opinions.
“With the Government 3.0 plan, the government will voluntarily open up information share data with the public and guarantee the people’s active participation,” said Park Chan-woo, first vice minister of security and public administration.
The feasibility of the plan, however, was questioned by some critics.
“The agenda shows a desirable direction,” said Jeon Jin-han, head of the Center for Freedom of Information and Transparent Society. “But it may not be implemented properly unless the public servants change their inherent secrecy and perception of information. Without such changes, useless data will be offered to the public merely to fulfill a campaign promise.”
He said it is more important for the government to provide information that the public actually wants, which is likely to be information that civil servants are reluctant to give up.
Others expressed concerns about the online direct democracy under the Government 3.0 plan. They said the idea is idealistic, but various snags are anticipated.
“In Korea, the ideological gap between the conservatives and the progressives is big,” said Jeong Jeong-hwa, professor of public administration at Kangwon National University. “A mechanism to guarantee the neutrality and legitimacy of opinion gathering must be prepared. The government also needs to include the opinions of people that don’t use the Internet and smart phones.”
BY SER MYO-JA, KIM WON-BAE [email@example.com]